2:00PM Water Cooler 5/2/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

European Starling. Ithaca; Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Tompkins, New York, United States.”Single bird singing from top of elm tree imitating turdus migratorius and sayornis phoebe. All sounds made by this starling.”

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“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Yellen breaks the debt ceiling ice” [Axios]. “The months-long silence between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reaching an abrupt end thanks to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Yellen’s urgent deadline on the debt ceiling gives the White House and Congress as little as a month to avert a catastrophic default, spurring Biden to call an emergency meeting with congressional heads… Senate Democrats interviewed by Axios on Monday stood firm in their opposition to tying the debt ceiling to budget cuts despite the newly truncated timeline… Republicans celebrated Biden’s decision to come to the table, but shut down the idea of a clean debt ceiling increase with seemingly no wiggle room.”

“Debt ceiling: Biden calls congressional leaders and invites them to meet” [CBS News]. “President Biden called the four congressional leaders Monday afternoon and invited them to a May 9 meeting on the debt ceiling, according to three people familiar with the calls…. According to a White House official, in his meeting with congressional leaders, Mr. Biden will stress that Congress must take action to avoid default without conditions. The president invited the four leaders to the White House to discuss the urgency of preventing default, the official said. And, at the same time, Mr. Biden plans to raise with them how a separate process might be initiated to address the budget and appropriations for the 2024 fiscal year.”

The Supremes

“This Supreme Court is slow to issue rulings — glacially slow” [NBC]. “The court has resolved 15 cases as of May 1st, leaving 75% of its caseload this term still undecided. No term in the last century has had fewer decisions at this point…. All of the court’s major cases are yet to be decided, on issues like President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt, affirmative action in college admissions, voting rights and the knotty question of whether owners of creative businesses can refuse to work on same-sex weddings. Important cases are also pending on environmental, Native American and immigration issues.”


“The Dark Biden Rises: The Reinvention of Hunter in a New and Menacing Image” [Jonathan Turley]. “First, there was the “Hunter: the wrongly accused international businessman.” This blanket denial of wrongdoing was maintained by his father and dutifully repeated by the media. Hunter Biden did ‘nothing wrong‘ and reporters pressing questions of corruption were immediately attacked. Then came ‘Hunter Biden: victim of Russian Disinformation.’ Before the 2020 election, the media repeated the false claim that the Hunter Biden laptop was likely ‘Russian Disinformation.’ Despite the denial of American intelligence and self-verifying emails on the laptop, the media accepted without question the dubious claims of former intelligence figures organized by longtime Democratic operatives. Then came ‘Hunter Biden: heroic recovering addict.’ As the media denials became more difficult to maintain on his dealings, Biden released a book that detailed his struggle with drugs and debauchery. The media again launched into the same fawning, unquestioning mode. … Now we have the Dark Biden. Hunter’s handlers are reinventing Hunter in a more combative image. He is an edgy and aggressive antagonist ready to fight fire with fire against Republicans. A team was assembled to reportedly attack potential witnesses and critics. With a possible criminal indictment and congressional investigations looming, Hunter the businessman or recovering addict or victim will not do. Hunter appears to have acquired lawyers by the gross, including former Clinton counsel Abbe Lowell. Lowell recently sent out a letter that caused a stir by not only seemingly confirming the authenticity of the laptop but threatening a host of critics. Biden called for groups to be stripped of tax exemptions, suggested a host of possible defamation actions, and even demanded criminal investigations against critics. The problem is that, unlike Dark Batman, Dark Biden is missing one critical element: a credible threat.”

“Hunter Biden’s Paternity Case Isn’t Going Very Well for Him” [New York Magazine]. “Aside from the very public reminder that Biden has never acknowledged one of his children, the paternity case could impact him far beyond Arkansas. In addition to the DOJ investigation, the House Oversight Committee opened an inquiry into Biden’s finances in January. In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Oversight chairman James Comer said that the judge’s order in Arkansas for Biden to disclose his finances could help the committee understand if he has any offshore accounts and who has been buying his work. So far, the names of the buyers and prices of the ink-and-oil pieces have not been disclosed, though the top-dollar gallery that represents Biden was asking $75,000 to $500,000 a pop in 2021 — not exactly the industry normal for an artist’s first show. ‘This has the potential to be very helpful,’ Comer said.”

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“The Party Centrist Extinction Is Upon Us” [The Dispatch]. “CNN just announced that Donald Trump will participate in a televised town hall for the network in New Hampshire next week… And let’s be real. It’s not going to take much. Biden is winning against Trump by 1 to 3 points in the best national polls we have. That’s within the margin of error. And that’s not even taking into account the Electoral College math problem that Democrats still have. Democrats keep acting like they have this thing in the bag because Trump got indicted? Because Trump says crazy stuff? Because Trump? This town hall could go very, very well for Trump.”

Republican Funhouse

“Inside the ‘Private and Confidential’ Conservative Group That Promises to ‘Crush Liberal Dominance'” [ProPublica]. “A few months ago, Leonard Leo laid out his next audacious project…. Now, Leo declared in a slick but private video to potential donors, he planned to ‘crush liberal dominance’ across American life… Teneo is building what Leo called in the video ‘networks of conservatives that can roll back’ liberal influence in Wall Street and Silicon Valley, among authors and academics, with pro athletes and Hollywood producers. A Federalist Society for everything…. Baehr and Thiel lamented what they saw as the fragmented state of conservative networks, with their hidebound think tanks and intellectual centers that hold sway over right-of-center politics. A rare bright spot on their side [Teneo co-founder Evan Baehr] and [Peter] Thiel agreed, was the Federalist Society. Thiel had, in fact, served as president of the Stanford Federalist Society. What if there were a group similar to the Federalist Society for venture capitalists or corporate CEOs or members of the media? (Thiel did not respond to a request for comment.)” • Hmm.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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Pelosi’s not the only Democrat:

Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal:

(The source is American National Election Studies, which surprisingly looks legit, though not always timely).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Black Protestant church still vital despite attendance drop” [Associated Press]. “The wide empty spaces in pews between parishioners at a Sunday service at Zion Baptist Church in South Carolina’s capital highlight a post-pandemic reality common among many Black Protestant churches nationwide. At its heyday in the 1960s, more than 1,500 parishioners filled every seat at Zion. But membership at the historic church — a crucial meeting point for many during the Civil Rights Movement — dwindled over recent decades. The trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which infected and killed Black Americans at a disproportionate rate. Zion’s attendance dropped from 300 parishioners before the outbreak to 125 now…. Zion’s shrinking attendance is in line with a recent Pew Research Center survey; it found a significant attendance drop among Black Protestants that is unmatched by any other major religious group. The number of Black Protestants who say they attend services monthly has fallen from 61% in 2019 to 46% now, said Pew, and they are the only group in which more than half (54%) attend services virtually.

Here is a fascinating chart (the link is interacit

“The Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior” [American National Election Studies]. Fascinating chart (the link is interactive) on “Social Class (Self-Indentification): Middle or Working Class?” The chart is interactive. Here is the “Race/Ethnicity” breakdown:

And here is “Party”:


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

MT wusses out (RM):

Biden ending the Covid Public Health Emergency is the driver; no doubt other states will drop out too….

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

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Look for the Helpers

Modified rapture:

What if unmasked people near you are coughing? What if unmasked people near you are asymptomatic?


“Study of Novavax COVID vaccine estimates 100% efficacy against hospitalizations” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “A post hoc analysis of a phase 3 randomized, controlled trial estimates that two doses of the Novavax (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine were 100% effective against hospitalization by 95 days during a period dominated by the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant.” • But Alpha was a long time ago….


“Masks come off in the last refuge for mandates: The doctor’s office” [WaPo]. “TikTok has been flush with nurses embracing the opportunity to doff their masks after three years. Some posted celebratory videos from hospital floors where they ripped masks off to the tune of ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ One travel pediatric nurse with 215,000 followers, who declined to comment, posted a video saying he was looking forward to having ‘flawless’ skin again because wearing masks for 12-hour shifts caused breakouts along his jawline. Other nurses joked that they liked the masks because they could conceal their facial expressions.” Propaganda works, I guess. More: “Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, said the agency plans to update its infection prevention and control guidance after the public health emergency ends ‘to ensure safeguards stay in place to protect staff, patients and visitors in health-care facilities.’ She said masking is still recommended when facilities have outbreaks [i.e., when it’s already too late] or when communities have elevated transmission of respiratory viruses [except CDC is turning off even the horrid community levels (“the Green Map”) so how will anyone know? And: “‘We are dealing with sick patients, and the inability to emote and show empathy in our facial expressions is an underappreciated [lol, where’s the RCT?] negative part of masking all the time,’ said Karen Brust, a hospital epidemiologist for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who co-wrote a commentary piece [Water Cooler, April 18] arguing for the end of universal hospital masking.” • “Showing empathy” is, I suppose, the classy way to say “I want to see your smile.” First, you can emote with your eyes, which a mask reveals. (Of course, if your eyes are dead, because you can’t pass the Voight-Kampff test — as shown by your willingness to infect patients with a lethal pathogen — then a fake smile with your newly visible mouth might be the answer you need.) Second, Asia ffs. Are we really arguing that half the globe can’t show empathy because the people their mask?

“Do masks work? Randomized controlled trials are the worst way to answer the question” [STAT]. “RCTs have value only when researchers can be sure that the treatment is administered as intended. With an RCT for a drug, that means knowing, for example, whether providers’ biases affected who got the drug, whether patients’ habits affected how they took it, and whether control group participants somehow got it on their own. Without that knowledge, an RCT produces noise, and meta-analyses produce piles of noise. With behavioral interventions like wearing masks, it may be impossible to produce anything but noise without vastly more ambitious studies than have been conducted to date.” • For example:

I can’t find this response to Dr John Conly’s horrid and Brownnose Institute-driven anti-mask study. Readers?

A Venetian mask (an approach I have long advocated; 2020), as part of moving masks from the medical device bucket to the fashion bucket:

Note that the Flomask provides a standard dimension so that others can copy and attach the Venetian mask. IMNSHO, standardization is needed across the industry (particularly for facial dimensions, which should work like shoe sizes).

Elite Maleficence

“Loneliness poses risks as deadly as smoking: surgeon general” [Associated Press]. • So clean the air, and that way we won’t have to breath in pathogens to avoid loneliness!

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Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from May 1:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Indeed, a slight uptick. Let’s wait and see. A chart of past peaks:

Of course, the population is very different now. In any case, Nature agrees–

“COVID’s future: mini-waves rather than seasonal surges” [Nature]. “Whether you call it a surge, a spike, a wave or perhaps just a wavelet, there are signs of a rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections — again. A growing proportion of tests in some countries are coming back positive, and new variants, most notably a lineage called XBB.1.16, are pushing aside older strains, fuelling some of the uptick in cases. Welcome to the new normal: the ‘wavelet’ era. Scientists say that explosive, hospital-filling COVID-19 waves are unlikely to return. Instead, countries are starting to see frequent, less deadly waves, characterized by relatively high levels of mostly mild infections and sparked by the relentless churn of new variants. Wavelets don’t always create a dramatic spike in hospitalizations and deaths; their effects on health vary between countries. But the relentless series of wavelets looks very different from the slower, annual circulation patterns of influenza and cold-causing coronaviruses, and it seems increasingly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 will settle into a flu-like rhythm anytime soon, say scientists.” And: “In the year and half since Omicron emerged, COVID-19 deaths remain stubbornly high and the toll has been around ten times higher than that typically caused by influenza, says Wenseleers. But, still, large infection waves are causing smaller ripples in hospitalizations and deaths. ‘It gives most people the hope that, in the coming years, the net toll of COVID will get comparable to influenza,’ [Waasila Jassat, a public-health specialist at the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg] says.” • Each wave leaves the population a little worse off, from cumulative vascular and neurological damage, from Long Covid, and from the effects of immune dysregulation.

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, April 29, 2023. Here we go again:

Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 22:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


A kind reader discovered that Walgreens had reduced its frequency to once a week. No updates, however, since April 11.


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: WHO turned off the feed? Odd that Walgreen’s positivity shut down on April 11, and the WHO death count on April 12. Was there a memo I didn’t get?

Total: 1,161,164 – 1,159,839 = 1325 (1325 * 365 = 483,625 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published April 23:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the United States dropped by 384,000 to 9.6 million in March 2023, the lowest level since April 2021 and below the market’s expectation of 9.775 million, indicating that the labor market may be cooling off.:

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured goods in the US increased by 0.9 percent compared to the previous month in March 2023, rebounding from two consecutive months of decline. However, the growth fell short of market expectations of 1.1 percent and followed a revised 1.1 percent drop in February. The biggest upward contribution came from a 9 percent surge in demand for transport equipment, led by both civilian (78.3 percent) and defense aircraft (9.6 percent).”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell for a third consecutive month to hit another record low of 50.9 in April of 2023, compared to 51.1 in March. The decline was mainly driven by a dip in inventory levels (-4.7 to 50.9), suggesting that firms continue to get closer to properly balancing their supply of goods. The drop in inventories has led to a significant fall in warehousing utilization (-9.9 to 55.1) which in turn has dropped warehousing prices (-1.1 to 69.8) particularly for downstream firms.”

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Tech: “Apple fights $2 bln London lawsuit for ‘throttling’ millions of iPhones” [Reuters]. “Apple Inc urged a London tribunal on Tuesday to block a $2 billion mass lawsuit accusing it of hiding defective batteries in millions of iPhones by ‘throttling’ them with software updates. The tech giant is facing a lawsuit worth up to 1.6 billion pounds plus interest, brought by consumer champion Justin Gutmann on behalf of iPhone users in the United Kingdom. Gutmann’s lawyers argued in court filings that Apple concealed issues with batteries in certain phone models and “surreptitiously” installed a power management tool which limited performance.”

Tech: Thanks, Silicon Valley:

To be fair, we know that a future of 10-hour weeks, with a long life to enjoy copious leisure time activities, is in store for us as soon as AI removes us from the workplace as much as possible. And who wouldn’t want that?

Tech: “The looming threat of AI to Hollywood, and why it should matter to you” [Vox]. ” the appeal of AI to Hollywood, in particular to replace writers, is obvious. For one, the industry is sitting atop a pile of data that tells them not just what people want in the aggregate, but what, precisely, individual consumers want. For now, the industry’s method for making money requires making a product that’s as broadly appealing as possible. But suppose you could flip that: Netflix could use your viewing data to not just generate weirdly specific suggestions for you but create on-the-fly entertainment that matches your interests. Sure, it might seem like the results would be repetitive. But consider the extraordinary popularity of highly formulaic entertainment — procedurals, sitcoms, action flicks, Hallmark movies — and you can start to see the appeal for platforms whose main goal is to keep you watching. Of course, that can’t be replicated (yet) in a theater, and there’s plenty of evidence that people like to see the same movie as their friends. AI can help with that, too. Hollywood’s other huge problem since its inception is that making movies requires employing a lot of people, and those people want to be compensated fairly for their labor and treated like humans — sleeping, eating, getting some vacation time. If you were faced with the possibility of removing some humans from the equation, employing instead a tireless machine that doesn’t need a salary and won’t go on strike when it’s being exploited, wouldn’t that be tempting?” • Thanks, Silicon Valley.

Tech: “AI ‘Godfather’ Quits His Job at Google Warning of ‘Scary’ Outcomes” [Entrepreneur]. “In an interview with the New York Times, Hinton talked about his decision to leave Google, where he was co-founder of Google Brain, a research team that develops artificial intelligence systems. ‘It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,’ Hinton said.” • Ya think?

Tech: “AI experts warn of looming catastrophes” [Axios]. Inspired by Hinton (above). “Axios asked AI experts — developers, researchers and regulators — to sketch their most plausible disaster fears. Their top 5: 1. Cyberattacks explode…. 2. Scams sharpen…. 3. Disinformation detonates…. 4. Surveillance locks in…. 5. Strongmen crack down.” But: “The tech industry’s AI product race shows no sign of slowing.” • So what were these guys thinking?

Tech: “Samsung bans use of A.I. like ChatGPT for employees after misuse of the chatbot” [CNBC]. “Samsung told employees to take precautions when using ChatGPT and other products outside of work and advised workers not to enter any personal or company related information into the services…. Samsung is not the only company restricting use of the technology. U.S. investment bank JPMorgan reportedly restricted use of ChatGPT among staff earlier this year. And Amazon this year reportedly warned employees not to upload confidential information, including code, to ChatGPT.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 2 at 1:53 PM ET.

Groves of Academe

“Column: Red-state efforts to dumb down their universities will provoke a brain drain” [Los Angeles Times]. • As a child of academics, I am very sympathetic to this view. OTOH, when I think of what Harvard and Yale graduates have done to the country, I look askance at “dumb down.”

Zeitgeist Watch

“No one practicing, teaching about or reporting on gender-affirmative care, or gender identity, should continue until…” [Lisa Selin Davis, BROADview]. • A reading list.

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2018 study: “Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to show signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria” [PLOS One]. n = 256. Here is the Conclusion: “This descriptive, exploratory study of parent reports provides valuable detailed information that allows for the generation of hypotheses about factors that may contribute to the onset and/or expression of gender dysphoria among AYAs. Emerging hypotheses include the possibility of a potential new subcategory of gender dysphoria (referred to as rapid-onset gender dysphoria) that has not yet been clinically validated and the possibility of social influences and maladaptive coping mechanisms. Parent-child conflict may also explain some of the findings. More research that includes data collection from AYAs, parents, clinicians and third party informants is needed to further explore the roles of social influence, maladaptive coping mechanisms, parental approaches, and family dynamics in the development and duration of gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults.”

2023, critique: “Is ‘social contagion’ real? Fact-checking transgender care claims in new MO restrictions” [Kansas City Star]. “This theory, called ‘social contagion,’ is widely understood to be false. The idea stems from a single study from 2018 [above] in the journal PLOS One wherein researcher Lisa Littman collected survey results from parents on three websites that oppose gender-affirming health care. PLOS One issued [an extensive correction] to Littman’s study in 2019, which questions its sampling methods and reliance on parental accounts rather than information gathered directly from trans people. [See also a] 2022 study in the journal Pediatrics that found no evidence of social contagion, and stated that the theory ‘should not be used to argue against the provision of gender-affirming medical care.'”

2023, response: “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases” [Archives of Sexual Behavior]. (The author, J. Michael Bailey, is no stranger to controversy.) From the Abstract:

During the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in adolescents and young adults (AYA) complaining of gender dysphoria. One influential if controversial explanation is that the increase reflects a socially contagious syndrome: Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). We report results from a survey of parents who contacted the website ParentsofROGDKids.com because they believed their AYA children had ROGD. Results focused on 1655 AYA children whose gender dysphoria reportedly began between ages 11 and 21 years, inclusive. These youths were disproportionately (75%) natal female. Natal males had later onset (by 1.9 years) than females, and they were much less likely to have taken steps toward social gender transition (65.7% for females versus 28.6% for males). Pre-existing mental health issues were common, and youths with these issues were more likely than those without them to have socially and medically transitioned. Parents reported that they had often felt pressured by clinicians to affirm their AYA child’s new gender and support their transition. According to the parents, AYA children’s mental health deteriorated considerably after social transition. We discuss potential biases of survey responses from this sample and conclude that there is presently no reason to believe that reports of parents who support gender transition are more accurate than those who oppose transition. To resolve controversies regarding ROGD, it is desirable that future research includes data provided by both pro- and anti-transition parents, as well as their gender dysphoric AYA children.

I’m not even sure what kind of methodology is appropriate here. Surely not an RCT? That said, a parents-only survey seems odd; and a child-only survey seems odd. (Adding, after our experiences on Covid policy, I think it’s pretty hard to argue that “social contagion” (“Let me see you smile!”) is not a thing. Surely it’s one of the effects that social media — as well as propanda from the organs of State security — wish to create, and do?

Class Warfare

May 1:

Correct. What a debacle. (The responses mention a few small exceptions. Over-all, a debacle.)

“Perfect storm in Minnesota labor market is worrying harbinger for the Fed” [Reuters]. “After raising starting wages from $17 an hour to around $24 and overhauling hiring strategies, [Jeff Drees, chief executive of the U.S. unit of Japan’s Daikin Industries Ltd] still has 200 open jobs at this and two nearby facilities, where he is hoping to add to current staffing of 1,200. Daikin’s order book is bulging, he said, amid demand driven by buildings being upgraded with better air conditioning systems in the wake of the COVID pandemic, a rush of new data centers and electric vehicle plants, and federal dollars flowing under recent infrastructure and environmental legislation. To Federal Reserve officials wondering when wage growth might slow as they try to cool the economy and inflation, his prognosis is not soon. ‘I don’t think it’s leveling off.’ … The experience of Minnesota, where a strong industrial and corporate base has collided with flatlining population growth, suggests the process of finding a new balance, so central to the evolution of the economy, wages and inflation, will be neither fast nor cheap.”

“‘It’s just pure chaos’: Top Hollywood showrunners sound off about writers’ strike” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Writers Guild of America called on their members to launch a strike on Monday night after the contract negotiation period with major studios ended without a new deal in place. The walkout will likely result in a halt of production on most TV shows produced in Hollywood for the first time in 15 years. Last month, members of the guild voted overwhelmingly, at 98%, in favor of a strike action if the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios, failed to reach an agreement on a new deal by the impending contract expiration at midnight Monday. The strike is the first one in 15 years.”

News of the Wired

“‘We Have 30 Extra Years’: A New Way of Thinking About Aging” [Stanford Business]. “Thanks to advances in medicine and public health, people are living longer, healthier lives. The world’s population of people 60 and older is growing five times faster than the population as a whole. Global life expectancy has doubled since 1900, and experts say that children born in developed countries now have a good chance of living to 100. A “silver tsunami” is already sweeping the U.S. labor force: the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 36% of people ages 65–69 will remain on the job in 2024 — up significantly from the 22% who were working in 1994. These longer-lived, longer-working individuals generate an ever-bigger slice of global GDP and control an expanding tranche of global wealth.” • Well, except for Third World countries like the United States, where life expectancy is dropping.

This looks neat!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    IBM CEO has said: We will pause hiring for roles that AI could do
    So a lot of those remote tech support jobs in Bengaluru …..

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      “…that a future of 10-hour weeks, with a long life to enjoy copious leisure time activities…” I think should read “…, with a long life spent scrabbling for food and shelter….”

      It’s not like they’re planning on increasing pay for those 10 hrs/week to make up for the lost 30 hrs.

      1. SocalJimObjects

        With ChatGPT soon spitting out scam emails that the best spam filters can’t even catch, I am sure we’ll spend just 10 hours reading through our correspondence, and then as you said, we’ll head out scrabbling for food and shelter.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If those servers for those AIs are located in America, then those CEOs could claim to be bringing back jobs home.

  2. Wukchumni

    Watched 4 MLB games to discern the difference in the new & improved national pastime versus the past times, and it wasn’t that obvious-which means they’ve done a good job in that you can’t hardly tell, but what you could surmise was the stands were oh so empty, and you’d think this early in the season where hope would spring eternal, that they’d have more fans, but similar to church attendance plummeting, once we got out of the routine of going to things that were fading anyway in popularity, Covid was the coup d’draw.

    1. Objective Ace

      It doesnt help that prices continue to rise while the median salary has stagnated for decades. I dont think baseball owners want full stadiums — that’s lost revenue. They’d rather set the price where supply equals demand.

      1. Benny Profane

        I’ll bet that baseball teams make the meat of their revenues from TV (cable packaging), and merchandise. The Yankees still don’t seem to be bothered that a lot of the incredibly expensive seats behind home plate and off to first and third sit empty, even in Red Sox series and playoff time. The old stadium was entirely sold out for a lot of years before they built this one. Crowds are messy, I guess. Now they figured out how to make your grandma pay a monthly fee, if she has cable.

    2. Lou Anton

      You must’ve watched a Rockies, Tigers, and/or Giants game (or maybe the Rays, who are lucky to get 5-digit attendance levels). Forbes has attendance up 5% YOY.

      As of Weds, April 26 the league was averaging 26,753 per game, up +5% compared to last year when it was 25,275. All told attendance is up 549,610 compared to the same time last season. Currently, two-thirds of the league is seeing increases, while ten teams (Rockies, Giants, Tigers, Reds, Cubs, Angels, Royals, White Sox, Braves, and Red Sox) are down with Colorado (-6,304 per game), Giants (-3,084 per game), Tigers (-1,405 per game), and Reds (1,059 per game) seeing drops in the four figures.

      Leading increases year-over-year are the Phillies (+10,166 per game), Yankees (+6,085 per game), Guardians (+4,883 per game), and Mariners (+4,802 per game).

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        This time of year, baseball attendance if very weather dependent. I’ve sat through games in the 40s at Wrigley and Progressive Field, and you really have to want to see the game to stick it out. It looks like church attendance these days at traditional churches.

    3. in_still_water

      It’s early in the season and pretty cold looking for those up north to be in the stands. First 10 2023 redsox games were on average 1/2 hour shorter than those in 2022.

    4. Late Introvert

      The rule changes have shortened the games a noticeable amount, made base stealing a good option again, removed that pitcher throwing to 1st base over and over late in the game thing, and stopped that BS of shifting the defense, so I’m mostly in favor of it.

      The DH in both leagues, and the runner on 2nd in late innings, not so much. Those are very noticeable to me.

      People always ask me all excited “Oh! Do you like the Cubs?” if I have the game on the radio. Then super crestfallen when I say no, I just like baseball. Tight games late in the season have a tense quietude on the field that no other sport can match.

  3. Diogenes

    Pull quote from a Tablet item interviewing RFK, Jr. https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/robert-f-kennedy-jr-interview-david-samuels:

    Are we still living in the same country that you grew up in, in which your family saga was one of the structuring myths, is this that same country still, now?

    I think democracy’s taken a lot of hits.

    I think that a new system is being put in place. I can feel it and I see it. Where do you think it comes from?

    Eisenhower made this famous speech on my seventh birthday, in 1961 on January 17th, where he warned against the subversion of America’s values and democracy because of the military-industrial complex, which includes the intelligence apparatus. Also, he specifically mentioned the federal science agencies, which he included in that definition.

    I would say that my uncle came into office three days later and spent the next three years fighting a battle against his own military and intelligence apparatus to make sure that Eisenhower’s predictions didn’t come true and that my uncle died in that process.

    Then my father campaigned five years later for president against the Vietnam War, against the domination of American democracy by the military-industrial complex, and he died in that endeavor.

    Since then, we’ve seen the steady subversion of our democracy and the transformation of America into an imperial state abroad and a surveillance state and security state at home. I think the biggest tectonic changes happened because of the Vietnam War.

    Then on 9/11, when the Cold War was over at that point, and we were all supposed to now finally get the peace dividend, instead that peace dividend was diverted to a new battle against an invisible enemy called terrorism. That was also the beginning of the biosecurity state, which is a more potent enemy to justify this huge diversion of a big slice of our GDP to the same people, the intelligence agencies, the military agencies, and the associated industries, including the pharmaceutical industry, which is now the biggest industry in the world.

    They’re all tied together. They now control the media as well through a lot of different mechanisms, including just pharmaceutical advertising, which dominates the news reporting shows of our country. If you look at Anderson Cooper, he is not working for CNN; he’s working for Pfizer.”

    Yes, he also says masks don’t work against a respiratory virus during a pandemic.

    And I, for one, don’t give a {family blog}.

    I don’t have a crystal ball, but I know there is such a thing as too late.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And I, for one, don’t give a {family blog}.

      I do. Not infecting people with a lethal pathogen is important to me. Not being infected too, unless you think me catching Long Covid is a good idea?

      1. Diogenes

        I’d rather neither you nor anyone else get infected with a lethal pathogen or, while we’re at it, suffer any other avoidable harm.

        Unfortunately we live in a world with more than one risk in it and, if asked to choose (as I anticipate we will be) between nominating a chief executive who thinks masks don’t work, but who also thinks there’s too much concentration of corporate power, not least in the pharmaceutical industry, and who thinks the U.S. has gotten too imperial, too authoritarian, too unequal, too warlike, (etc.) and one who’s endorsed the use of masks but is horrible in all of the ways just alluded to and a baleful number of others into the bargain, I’m going with A, masks be damned.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        I commented the other day that I watched RFKJ’s announcement speech until the point when he began to go on a “lockdown” rant. His treatment of Covid represents a serious failure of judgment in my view.

        That said, I watched the horrible ABC hatchet job on him a few days ago (at around 12:00). After putting half a dozen nasty attacks from family on the screen, the interviewer then came after Kennedy for his vaccine/Science views. Still perhaps struggling with his emotions after that family-based attack, he stuttered and struggled a bit, but he got his feet back under him and explained his attitude toward Science. He described it as “dynamic,” but went into his history in environmental law where expert science testimony was a factor in nearly every case. It seems to have made him pretty cynical about “Science” and its practitioners and very skeptical about expert claims. I would also guess that as he has become a hero among the anti-vaxxers, there’s been some assimilation to that group. That’s the only way I can understand the very reckless views he’s expressed about masks and other public health measures.

        The Covid minimizers are suffering from some shock and denial of their own. Randi Weingarten, another Dem tool at the head of a union, was criticized across the Right podcasters for claiming that schools were closed in New York because Covid was so dangerous that March and April of 2020. That was met with guffaws. They must be good at forgetting if they don’t recall the hospitals where doctors and nurses were sneaking out videos of patients stuffed into hallways, dying while desperately waiting for ventilators.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There seems to be a narrative being developed how it was awful how so many people were forced to stay at home during a rampant pandemic. Not quite ‘mah rites’ but more how it was all so terrible. That it was an evil period and I have seen here in Oz one or two States change their laws so that medical authorities will never have the right or ability to ever do this again. It may be that the social effects of people getting off the rat’s treadmill giving them time to actually think for a coupla months is something that the establishment got rattled about. I’m not sure if anybody has done an honest study of how this period changed people’s thoughts on work and quality of life issues and ‘quiet quitting’ may have been the least of it’s effects.

      3. JohnnyGL

        The problem is that the political class (even the insurgents) have collectively decided/misunderstood that nothing can be done.

        You can’t vote for the candidate who understands and explains airborne transmission because that candidate doesn’t exist.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Kim Iversen had a Kennedy interview pulled from her Youtube channel and received a strike for it. She reports that several other podcasters have had the same happen. The reason given was “medical misinformation.”

      So I’m having trouble understanding how this works. As Taibbi, et al. have uncovered in the Twitter files, there was a big censorship effort throughout 2021 to push the vaccines with the justification that if they could just get everybody to get a jab, Covid would be vanquished, and we would be back to Normal. So they’ve had their Mission Accomplished moment. Covid is “over.” News about the jab has almost disappeared. Do they even pay for it anymore? And yet the censorship has not let up. (Admittedly, that 19% for RFK, Jr. may have the Bidenites pushing social media to unperson him also.)

      Taibbi ends the discussion in his appearance on Useful Idiots with a few minutes about how the institutions that used to vie for power in America are coalescing to form one big Insider group. He finds it terrifying and the end of any pretense to democracy.

      When the Insiders become so repressive and so indifferent (at best) to the basic welfare of the people, that’s when all the Outsiders get together regardless of their differences and unite to cast out the Insiders. It’s a matter of self-preservation.

      1. JohnnyGL

        At this point, the best argument for kennedy is that he is totally and completely hated and held in utter contempt by elite media.

        The hatred is even more visceral that what bernie faced.

        1. flora

          Yes, and that’s pretty shocking considering no one thinks he has a chance to win the Dem nomination. Look what the Dem estab did to Bernie in 2016. The Dem machine will never let RFKjr near nomination. Everyone knows this. So why the hatred? Why the near hysteria?

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            IMHO, it won’t take much to topple Biden. McCarthy barely broke 40% in the first primary and LBJ was gone. Johnson had a bad heart, and maybe that was a factor. But poor Biden is a fragile reed. A halfway decent puff, and the Kennedy name is still a decent puff, and he snaps in two.

            1. Hana M

              Very interesting take, Henry. I’m an independent in MA and we can do crossover voting. Bobby Jr. has my vote. I hope it works because Dark Brandon (and his Dark son) are so toxic they need to be toppled. I love it that RFK jr is willing to take on Big Pharma. I don’t agree with everything but then I don’t always agree with myself :)

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Biden is at 38% despite being treated with kids gloves, and Biden crushed it with people who remember Kennedy or pretend they were that old. Young people didn’t vote for Patrick Kennedy.

            RFK Jr had his share of problems, but he’s a dagger in the heart of Biden’s nostalgia base.

          3. Screwball

            Disclosure: no idea what to think of K.

            Given his quote above, I can’t find much to disagree with, if anything.

            That’s the problem.

          4. Acacia

            The Dem machine will never let RFKjr near nomination. Everyone knows this. So why the hatred? Why the near hysteria?

            Maybe there are still many kool aid drinkers who don’t see how the DNC works?

      2. flora

        I think your last para is correct. Look at the Virginia parents lambasting the local school board and its haughty dismissal of the parents and their concerns. Those parents were recent immigrants, people who should be the Dem party’s natural constituency. But the current Dem elites are nothing like the old Dem elites, nothing like Humphrey or Musky or even B. Clinton, who at least acted like they cared about the middle class and working class and even the middle class. The new Dem PMC elites are very open in their indifference, even hostility to the poor and the working class and middle class. How else can they cut people off Medicaid and reduce food stamps to practically nothing in this inflationary environment. The PMC Libs are practically offering the GOP the voters who used to vote Dem. We’ll see if Chuck Schumer’s prediction about winning 2 suburban voters for every blue collar vote they lose holds true. My 2 cents.

        1. flora

          Adding, the GOP estab is no better, judging from the complaints I hear from GOP voters.
          It really has become insiders vs outsiders. What to do.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            The various flavors of outsiders are going to have to learn to respect each other and communicate with each other. Probably the first step in doing that is learning to refrain from using the usual epithets at one another as we’ve been taught in the Red/Blue dispensation. Their has to be some unity, at least temporary, to dislodge this consolidating cabal.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Amazing that hundreds of billions, trillions even, are “authorized to be appropriated” and then flood out the Treasury door and into the paws of the Zelensky mob and the MICIMAC and the forking banksters, and not a forking word about even a tiny reduction in that Niagara.

          Even people here seem so inured enough to this state of affairs that they don’t even mention the issue in this “cut” context. Pretty much seems to be the case in all the other media places I’ve looked today. I guess that’s why the Empire is going over the cliff, taking us mopes with it. All to accomplish what?

          Not only will we never have nice things, we’ll be robbed of everything else on the way to maybe thermonuclear destruction.

  4. IM Doc

    A few things about the Novavax vaccine paper above.

    1) This, as discussed, is its effect against Alpha. Ergo, it means absolutely nothing in our current situation. As has been known for ages, this is the problem with vaccinations for coronaviruses – they change way too rapidly for vaccines to keep up with.

    2) If there is one lesson that I hope that everyone has learned in this pandemic, I would hope it would be this. If any pharma company discussing any pharma product, vaccines or whatever, promises a 100% effectiveness, your immediate response should be not just to walk away but to run away as fast as you possibly can.

    1. Barbara

      How about pharma companies who don’t give you the data of their trials and studies, but just their own review?

    2. aletheia33

      thank you IM Doc! for every bit of the invaluable info you provide here on NC. please know that it has significantly contributed to this reader’s outlook and health, for the better.

    3. Verifyfirst

      Novavax is not an mRNA vaccine. My understanding was it delivered a longer copy of the virus, parts of which do not change much across variants, so it is more likely to be recognized across variants, including future variants, of Covid.

      I would like to say more about Novavax, but I lost my Twitter bookmarks a few weeks ago, when Twitter (after “careful review”, they said) permanently suspended my account. Which is odd, since I don’t tweet, re-tweet or like tweets–I just read, bookmark and follow. Apparently I read too much of the wrong things. I did appeal, but I’m guessing I will never hear back, with 80% of the employees fired, according to Mr. Musk. Btw, is there a reason he wasn’t personally standing in the blast zone of that rocket?

      Anyway, the best I can find at the moment re: how Novavax works is this explanatory letter from the manufacturer: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2215509


      1. Late Introvert

        I would like to say more about Novavax, but I lost my Twitter bookmarks a few weeks ago, when Twitter (after “careful review”, they said) permanently suspended my account. Which is odd, since I don’t tweet, re-tweet or like tweets–I just read, bookmark and follow. Apparently I read too much of the wrong things.

        Sorry, that is so family blogged. The platforms are not our friend.

  5. griffen

    Axios on the debt ceiling. I’m sure the adults will behave, and in the end the debt ceiling gets raised into perpetuity cause no one really does any math or cares about the math anyway. It’s like a scene from Blazing Saddles. It is time to protect our phony baloney jobs !

    Biden seems akin to the fictional Governor. Kevin McCarthy, maybe like Hedley who was seemingly competent at being evil and pernicious. Here’s the question. Who is Mongo? Mongo like candy!

    1. Ranger Rick

      Social contagion or mass hysteria? I suppose the difference may lie in how negative the outcome is.

      1. Carolinian

        Think they used to call it “mob psychology” and it was universally regarded by good liberals as a bad thing (movie/book The Ox-Bow Incident). Perhaps they still do since Kansas City Star pretends it doesn’t exist due to a “study.”

        There is a theory in certain circles that corporate trans promotion is their CEO’s revenge on the “me too” movement and feminism for spoiling their fun. “Gender affirming” by this point of view puts down the female sex by suggesting anybody can do it.

        A commenter here the other day said that psychologists have “physics envy” and want to pretend their pronouncements have the force of undeniable science and not merely large doses of social contagion, academic branch. But they don’t, and therefore promoting them in public schools can, imo, be very dubious indeed. And if it’s about “free speech” then surely the same promoters have no objection to other schools bringing back Creationism.

    2. fjallstrom

      Is social contagion a possible explanation in this case? I guess so, but separating it from the effect of just relaxing social norms is going to be very hard. If more kids see themselves as trans, is it because they think they should because of media or because they have access to information that makes it a possibility (rather than just feeling weird)? Seems to me the main difference is in a valuation of how real or desirable trans is.

      A to my mind more falsifiable and therefore more interesting hypothesis would be looking at spread of chemicals that has hormonal effects. Some 20-30 years ago there were a lot of discussion of short term effects on frogs and possible long term effects on humans. That discussion seems to have gone away. May be for good reasons, I can’t say I have followed that field close enough that I would know for certain if those fears had been found unwarranted.

  6. Wukchumni

    Life imitating art doesn’t work for everybody, and the powers that be realized that it would be preposterous for Hunter to write a book or give speeches as a go around to get the money, like every other politically connected upper tier profiteer.

    1. griffen

      But, but those speeches he could give on “living large” would be informative while detailing the extensive work schedule as a former board member of ABC or XYZ. Plus, all the math involved when splitting income and fees among the local Biden clan*. Bonus time, a sit down session with the local artists to explain how to best succeed in the high minded art circles.

      *Reportedly, I assure you. I think it’d be Henry Hill territory for sure. If we wanted something we just took it. \SARC

    2. Stephen V

      Um, Dark Biden not a credible threat? There’s a mid-level IRS Auditor who would beg to differ.
      I would also offer that in our Era of “social contagion” merely being (terroristically) threatened can be damaging. Eg., Taibbi being threatened with prison for an errant acronym. “Lawyering up” costs money. Ask Megyn Kelly. (I agree with Lambert that he should, but dang. )

  7. Will

    This is really something. Or maybe I’m over sensitive. But seems to me that this piece is trying to normalize Long Covid.

    The dark universe: can a scientist battling long Covid unlock the mysteries of the cosmos?
    Since being laid low with the virus more than a year ago, Catherine Heymans can only operate in half-hour bursts. But her work could still change the way we understand the universe

    Has anybody else seen something like this?

    In any event, an interesting profile of woman making her way in a male dominated field to push for acceptance of facts that show current narratives may be wrong. Wonder if the writer could have drawn parallels to anything else?

    Instead we get a brief snippet of how you too could overcome personal hardship with data!

    Soon after she became ill, she opened a spreadsheet in which she began to track, in two-hour blocks, all her symptoms and activities. She was trying to understand how her symptoms related to her activity levels, so that she could find a more scientific basis for managing her wellbeing.

    Then we’re told she built her own air purifier from a box fan and air filters to reduce the chance of reinfection. A Corsi Box? Dunno. Not named as such let alone a link to how a reader could make their own.

    Damn. Are they really going to go from “Living with Covid” to “Living with Long Covid”? Needs a catchier phrase. Endemic 2.0? Endemic LLC?

  8. griffen

    Congressional critters found out for trading in bank stocks. Maybe they were buying high and selling low, as a suggested tactic? Ha Ha it is enough to laugh.

    Regional bank stocks are being punished like a red haired stepchild in this current trading environment. Sell today, ask questions later. Yeah, nice job there Yellen and Powell.

  9. flora

    It’s odd the MSM never ever mention Long Covid treatment protocols being used with some reported success, designed by formerly lauded medicos (who got on the wrong side of the official narrative about early treatments). Go figure.

  10. flora

    re: “To be fair, we know that a future of 10-hour weeks, with a long life to enjoy copious leisure time activities, is in store for us as soon as AI removes us from the workplace as much as possible. And who wouldn’t want that?”

    Whoa! Did you just read the latest Davos ‘future of work’ plan? / ;)
    From Redacted, utube, ~18 minutes. Skip ahead to start watching at around the 4 minute mark.

    WEF just doubled down on 15-minute cities and job layoffs in new meeting agend | Redacted News


  11. lyman alpha blob

    RE: rapid onset gender dysphoria

    Agree that “social contagion” likely is a thing, in general at least, but it’s a pretty loaded term. Memes and ideas spread through societies all time and it’s nothing new, but spread doesn’t need to be defined as “contagion”.

    Another explanation for the phenomenon is that it’s something in the water, literally. Have this one on the shelf but haven’t read it yet but the reviews I’ve seen were pretty reputable – Countdown by Shanna Swan, PhD. The book discusses how toxic chemicals may be responsible for plummeting sperm counts worldwide, among other reproductive- and sexuality-related issues.

    1. anon in so cal

      A plethora of scholarly articles address the notion of “social contagion” or whatever it may be labeled. Right now, gender dysphoria seems be the latest cool thing for certain demographics.


      One of many examples:

      Social Contagion and Innovation: Cohesion versus Structural Equivalence
      Ronald S. Burt

      Two classes of network models are used to reanalyze a sociological classic often cited as evidence of social contagion in the diffusion of technological innovation: Medical Innovation. Debate between the cohesion and structural equivalence models poses the following question for study: Did the physicians resolve the uncertainty of adopting the new drug through conversations with colleagues (cohesion) or through their perception of the action proper for an occupant of their position in the social structure of colleagues (structural equivalence)? The alternative models are defined, compared, and tested. Four conclusions are drawn: (a) Contagion was not the dominant factor driving tetracyclene’s diffusion. Where there is evidence of contagion, there is evidence of personal preferences at work.

      1. Late Introvert

        Nobody mentions the quadruple whammy of being a young person today:

        climate catastrophe

        toxic pollution everywhere

        malevolent leaders

        punishing debt for college then shit jobs

        wouldn’t you be freaking out if you were 11-17 and confused in 2023?

  12. midtownwageslave

    COVID data point: overheard coworker recounting a recent conversation with a NY metro area GP in their social circle stating that the latest variant going around is causing symptoms that can be mistaken for hay fever or seasonal allergies. Apparently, they can’t test for covid unless symptoms present like in previous waves.

  13. Jason Boxman

    I suppose I’m fortunate in that reading NC I at least have some idea of the world as it is, instead of whatever fairy tales you’d hear on the nightly news or read in the pages of the NY Times or Washington Post. I’m not so sure I wouldn’t take the blue pill if I had the chance though. It’s kind of hard to comprehend that casual murder is the domestic policy of the United States, and that this is bipartisan. (Domestically; Casual murder has been the foreign policy of the United States for centuries, as has the extermination of native peoples, so maybe none of this coming home to roost is at all outlandish.)

    I’ve mostly given up looking at metrics; Walgreens seems dead, and no amount of death and transmission is likely to alter the seemingly agreed upon policy of mass infection, of casual murder and population level disability. I’d hoped that maybe some variant, some horror, might rouse the Biden administration into some kind of competent action, but it seems mass infection is in fact the policy, so there is nothing that might prod it to alter course.

    Stay safe out there!

  14. Wukchumni

    The Winter I Got Stuck in a Sequoia Grove

    The power went out. The roads crumbled. The people left. The snows came, then came again, and again. We were trapped. There was no way out now. We had made our decision to stay, despite the looks of fear in other people’s eyes. We accepted the risks. We wanted to be here. Even struggling and cold, we’d choose this path. Even if we couldn’t leave again for months, all the way until winter turned into summer perhaps, we’d stay. Why? Why would we do this? Everyone else evacuated. They escaped to their other homes, an option we didn’t have. We don’t even own one house, much less two. But more than that, this is where we belong. Among the trees. This is the only place I’ve ever felt at home. It’s why I’m still here, despite the immense pain from the fire that took my home and half my forest two years ago. I need the trees, nature, beauty. I wither away anywhere else. Trees are the very life-giving air to me. An existence without them is no existence at all. Plus, my partner and I wanted to be alone with them. And alone we were. We had an entire sequoia grove to ourselves.


    Sue is probably the preeminent Sequoia hunter out there in terms of getting around to the 75 or so groves, and what a tale of cabin fever amongst the Brobdingnagians in the winter of record for the southern Sierra, no less.

    1. Carolinian

      I love trees too. We had a discussion about Atlanta this morning and when I think of the city all I can think of are trees. There’s a river that runs through it and lots of nature spots. I enjoy visiting Arizona–which is beautiful–but not sure I could be happy in a place without my forests..

      1. Wukchumni

        I live surrounded by oak and buckeye trees predominating, and am going through Giant Sequoia withdrawals as everything has been cut off, save one fortnight period this winter when you could get up to Giant Forest-access of which is expected in July, perhaps.

        Everything will be fairly limited this summer as snow will linger longer in the higher climes, making foot travel difficult & dangerous, so i’ll make hay by exploring the south facing Atwell Grove which goes up to close to 9k and should melt out quicker than anything else in my neck of the woods.

        There’s only one trail, otherwise you make your own way-and i’ve never actually run into anybody other than those hiking with me off-trail through the grove, its very much your own personal grove of Giant Sequoias while there.

  15. anon in so cal

    CDC conference was a superspreader event?

    “CDC opens probe after 35 test positive for covid following CDC conference.

    Attendees say many people did not mask, socially distance or take other precautions recommended earlier in the pandemic.”

    By Lena H. Sun and Dan Diamond

    Updated May 2, 2023 at 4:47 p.m. EDT|Published May 2, 2023 at 4:12 p.m. EDT

    “Disease detectives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are probing a new outbreak: the roughly three-dozen coronavirus cases linked to their own annual conference last week.

    “CDC is working with the Georgia Department of Health to conduct a rapid epidemiological assessment of confirmed COVID-19 cases that appear to be connected to the 2023 EIS Conference to determine transmission patterns,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said in an email.

    Nordlund said the CDC reported the cases to state health officials who have authority over the location where the conference occurred. Attendees said many people at the gathering did not mask, socially distance or take other precautions that the CDC had recommended earlier in the pandemic.”


    1. Late Introvert

      I could not stomach that word salad so late at night, urp. But I did search on “hotel staff” and no, there was not a single mention. No testing or isolation for them, no Paxlovid or wait staff either.

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